The desire to feather the nest can be useful because when you get things done in advance, you'll have more time to recover and nurture your baby after the birth. Just be sure to consider these guidelines before getting to work.
Safety first. Doctors warn against certain types of projects that can pose serious health risks to pregnant women. For starters, you don't want to subject yourself to fumes from cleaning products and paints, which can be harmful to you and your baby. Heavy lifting is also a big no-no. Expectant mothers are at a greater risk for straining ligaments and muscles because they have increased levels of relaxin, a hormone that loosens the joints to allow for the birth of the baby.
Think strategically. If you can swing it, channel your nesting urges into chores that will make life easier once you bring the baby home. A great game plan: Cooking and freezing a few meals so you'll have food at the ready when you return from the hospital.
Know when to call it quits. If your muscles feel tired or achy after you've been cleaning or decorating, take that as a sign that you're overexerting yourself, then stop and take a rest. Don't be afraid to delegate tasks to your husband. Most likely, he'll be excited to pitch in to make your home a welcoming place for your new baby. Who says nesting is something only moms can enjoy?
Originally published in the March 2009 issue of Parents magazine.